by Adam Beltz (Revolutionary Workers Collective, US Section of the RCIT), October 17th, 2012
We all know that you have had your faith in the current sociopolitical system shaken. Prior to 2008 you were questioning whether voting is worth it, whether your vote counts. Finally it seemed, after decades of more of the same from both parties appears a real politician, a politican that fights for the interests of all, who will make much needed changes. Barrack Obama came along promising that vague "change". Many thought that the "change" and "hope" that President Obama so often mentioned meant that their vote mattered this time, that they finally had someone that will represent them and change the way that things are done in Washington. This is clear by the amount of people that voted in the 2008 election. A great example of this is the amount of 18-24 year olds who voted for the first time, showing a significant increase over 2004. There were five million more voters in 2008 than in 2004.
What has Obama Done for the Working Class?
Now, back to another election 4 years later where are we? Have we had that change that was promised? Has anything significantly changed? Where has "hope" brought us? Well, we did receive an alteration to our medical provider laws, the government did bail out the auto industry. In fact, President Obama has been at the helm for many accomplishments including pushing through the stimulus package, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform Act, etc. But have these things really made much of an impact in your daily life? They may add or take away a little of the cash they typical American has on hand, but that’s about it. The changes that Obama wants are changes that, do a better job of maintaining and strengthening the capitalist system of economic relations.
What Hasn't Changed
Maybe it is easier to look at what hasn't changed as an example of how similar the two capitalist parties – the Republicans and the Democrats – are. Look at the growing gap between the rich and poor, the amount of time a worker must work daily. How can the US be called the most advanced nation in the world if we have around 46 million Americans living below the poverty line?! This is roughly 15% of the population. How can we be considered advanced if we are a society where millions and millions can't earn enough to live on? Take a look around – we have mass poverty, crumbling infrastructure, mass underemployment, a continual degradation of the environment, etc. Yet, individual American workers work much more than their counterparts in all of the other industrialized nations. This is all occurring as technology continues to advance. Our possibilities as a society are almost limitless. Is this really the best we can do as the most advanced industrial nation in the world? Is this really the extent of what our society can achieve?
Democratic and Republican Party - Two Capitalist Parties
Under the current political system, no presidential candidate, whether Democrat or Republican, will make the changes that you are looking for, the changes you thought you would get from Barrack Obama. Both parties, both capitalist parties, main priority is maintaining and strengthening the capitalist system. The divide between the two is only tactical, only between methods to achieve their goals. The two main parties differ in how they believe capitalism in the US can be maintained and strengthened. Neither party has its first priority as doing what is best for the people of the country on a whole; they do what’s best for a small minority. And who is this minority? Who are these people that are the beneficiaries of the two main political parties? They are the ones who hold the reigns of the economy and production in their hands. These are the people that the Occupy movement calls the 1%. In fact, the productivity of the American worker has gone up by 400% since 1950. This means that an American worker need just work 10 hours to produce what they would have in 1950. So, who is benefitting from this increase, because it is obviously not the American worker?
The System is the Problem
The situation that the working class is in is not the results of the policies of this or that party – this is the long term effect of the capitalist system. Because of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, capitalism must always look to expand and look for new ways to increase profit. One of the sure ways to find extra profit is to pay the workers less and make them work more. This has happened, does happen, and will continue to happen unless the system itself is changed. As long as we live under the system of capitalism the workers will continue to be exploited more and more. One need only to take a step back to look at the larger picture: not whether we should be voting for the Republican or the Democrats, but whether we should be voting for either of them. They are the two capitalist parties that have brought us to where we are today. They are the two parties keeping the working class in a position of subservience.
This is the system that Barrack Obama not only supports but strives to strengthen. Barrack Obama will never provide any drastic change. He cannot. He is just part, a charismatic part, of the entire political pendulum that American Workers have found themselves a pawn in. The system is set up so that the pendulum swings back and forth, impossible to change direction, between two political parties – the two major parties that represent the interests of the capitalist class. The two parties actually work synergistically to keep capitalism going in the United States. They both act as a relief valve for discontent. They give the unhappy voters a place to turn to when they are unhappy with what is currently happening. When the Republicans hold power the workers look to the Democrats for change. When the Democrats are in power the workers look to the Republicans for change. This happens repeatedly and consistently. Thus this two party system of two competing capitalist parties has a built in and predictable relief valve that allows the pressure of worker discontent to be channeled in a non-threatening way. The only way we are going to get out of this back and forth is by changing the source, they system itself.
The real problem with our society, the real cause of the unfortunate situation that we workers find ourselves in, is not the Democratic or Republican party. Either or both of those parties could be replaced and we could still find ourselves in the same situation, with no improvement in the lives of the workers. We need to go farther than just tying the blame to the Democrats and Republicans and look to the source. The two parties that are currently in power are the logical outcome of the combination of the capitalist system and the Constitution. This is what needs to be changed. We need to end the tyranny of the market and the profit motive. To do this we must replace the capitalist system with a system that is designed to benefit the workers themselves. The current Constitution was designed to concretize the capitalist system in the United States and the two party political system to keep it in place. The Constitution guarantees the right of the capitalists to exploit the working class. In order to create a system for the good of the workers, we must forge a new way of life from the ground up and this means getting rid of the capitalist U.S. Constitution.
Now that we have come to the conclusion that the beneficiaries of both parties are the super rich and political power holders (the 1%), we can see who are not the beneficiaries of this system – the ones who provide the lifeblood of the nation's economy (again, owned by the capitalist class). Some think that if we strengthen the corporations, if we strengthen the capitalists, they will voluntarily reward the workers with more pay, etc. This is absolute nonsense. The main and only essential function of any corporation is to increase its domination in its industry, and also (eventually) in every industry. The voluntary payment of extra money to the workers flies in direct contradistinction to the essential function of all corporations – no wonder: every single dollar more for the workers is a dollar less for the capitalist’s profits. Again, the concern for the environment or for anything other than itself for that matter is foreign to its purpose of existence.
What real change is: Real change is the eradication of the 40+ hour work week. There is no reason for us to have to work as much as we do. Why has technology been progressing, yet work requirements have not? The production capacity is constantly increasing. With the level of technology currently available there is no reason why we should be putting in as many (or more) hours at work as we do. As stated above, an American worker only needs to work about 10 hours per week to match the productivity of 1950 yet we are working more, not less. Technology should be used in the interests of all. It should be used to increase the quality of life of all. Unfortunately technology (under capitalism) is generally used not to help society, but to increase profits.
This is just one example for the real change we need. To make it happen, we need to take the economy in our own hands. The enterprises, the infrastructure and the natural resources of our country must not belong anymore to a tiny minority of big shareholders. It must belong to the working people. Similarly the political system must no longer be in the hands of politicians who are the stooges of the super-rich.
We need an economy which is owned and controlled by the working class. Such an economy would no longer waste the resources in an anarchic economic system for profit which is dominated by the big monopolies. It would be rather planned according to the needs of the people. Similarly we need a political system where the people can elect, control and re-call the representatives whenever they feel it is necessary. This means we need a political system without congress and presidency but where political power is exerted by a centralized body of council delegates who are elected and controlled by regular mass assemblies in enterprises and communities. This is what we call socialism.
The Need for a Workers Party
The working class must have its own political party. The workers of the United States generally choose one of two options when determining their political allegiance. Either they choose not to become involved, which is usually the result of the alienation that they face because of their lack of representation by the Democrat and Republican Party, or they choose to be involved and are essentially forced to decide between the two capitalist parties, neither of which represents their class interests. This needs to change. We call for all members of the working class to end all support for the capitalist parties. We need our own party, a party that represents our interests, the interests of the majority, and not the interests of the 1%. A workers party would fight class collaboration with the capitalist class and its parties and for the political development of the working class. The mass workers party can fight to end the rule of the capitalists and their two parties.
Down with the Democratic and Republican Party! No vote for Obama or Romney. The workers need our own party.
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